For most of the church, discipleship has become a casual affair. In place of discipleship, Storbakken explains, the wider church has created a culture of Christianity that stifles its disciple-making mission. So while many church planters invest their time and resources attracting and entertaining, Radical Living aims to equip and transform their members and their community. They see themselves as an experiment in shifting the paradigm of the notion of church as a place where people gather to a people whom God inhabits. At its core, Radical Living is about discipleship. Discipleship is radical and transformative and is intended for ardent and devout seekers who aim to be more like Jesus in every area of their lives. For this reason, it often occurs only on the Church’s margins. Discipleship is for “those who are willing to be countercultural to society and the current trends that dominate the church” (14). The true church “is a people God wants to inhabit,” Storbakken argues, “a people sharing life together, being vulnerable, taking risks, and trusting one another for support” (114).
While Radical Spirituality is filled with challenging theological reflection and revolutionary scriptural exegesis, it also includes numerous stories that make it accessible to a broad audience. Page after page, we are taken to unexpected places where we see Storbakken emerge from a life of radical (read “extreme”) pilgrimaging to a life of radical (read “rooted”) Christian faith. He tells of his spiritual journeys as a backpacker around the globe, living with anarcho-primitivists in the American Southwest, sleeping in abandoned houses with squatters in London, finding refuge among Hare Krishna groups in Europe, and eventually being baptized as a Christian among missionaries in India. He writes openly about encountering the Bible while doing time on drug charges in South Korea. He is candid about learning to see Jesus as an anti-imperial radical from Rastafarians while working as a roving reggae reporter with High Times magazine. He shares about learning to value the importance of being connected to a church community from a subway preacher, seeing God’s calling unfold as he and his wife, Vonetta, became dissatisfied with popular Christianity, and then ultimately catching the vision that would give birth to the community that Vonetta would christen as Radical Living.
Storbakken’s style mixes storytelling with reflection and can, at some points, seem a little disorganized. Nevertheless, his storytelling is extremely engaging, and his fusion of Christian radicalism and liberation theology is profoundly coherent. It is clear throughout that Storbakken has been influenced by a wide range of thinkers (such as John Howard Yoder, Cornel West and Delores Williams) and practitioners (such as Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Mark Van Steenwyk). This is an important book that deserves to be read by those who find themselves within Missional/Emergent circles or already living in or learning from other New Monastic communities. Jason Storbakken’s book also warrants careful consideration by anyone who has been disillusioned with traditional/cultural Christianity or may be looking for an example of Christian community that models radical discipleship and addresses social injustice.